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September 2008

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Backpacking, Hiking, Top Trips

Four days of Enchantment

Sometimes there is so much you want to say but you just can’t seem to find words that will do your adventure justice. Last week we spent four days backpacking in the Enchantments, and I have no idea how to describe it. The word perfect comes to mind…In lieu of words, I’ll let our photos do the talking:

JK & Prusik Peak Rune Lake, as seen from the toilet :) Prusik Peak

Prusik snuggles

Looking back

Wide-angled at Leprechaun


The world is silver and blue

JK & Prusik from the tent

Brace yourself

Goats out for a morning walk

Conclusion #1: the Enchantments = heaven on earth

Conclusion #2: I love multi-day backpacking and want to go on some longer trips next year

Conclusion #3: I have a slightly disturbing love (fetish?) for alpine lakes


Backpacking, Hiking, North Cascades, Top Trips

Park Butte Lookout

I am, as always, a wee bit behind (aka lazy), so here is our trip report from last weekend. We slept in a fire lookout! Yes yes, we’re just that cool. ;)

We hadn’t been up by Mount Baker before, so we headed north. Since the fire lookout is first come, first serve, we drove up on Friday after work and car camped by Baker Lake to get a head start. Unfortunately our head start was all for nothing when we woke up Saturday morning and found that mice had somehow snuck into our car…apparently they got in somewhere by the front wheel and made their way to the trunk, where they proceeded to gnaw on most of our food. After spending ages chasing the mice out of the car, we were relieved to see that they had left us a couple packets of dehydrated food so we wouldn’t starve on our hike. Yay..

My scouts

Fail number two was the weather. We basically couldn’t see anything at all the entire hike up because of the fog. If it weren’t for the map, I would have no idea that we were walking right next to a huge volcano. We made our way up to the lookout where – success! – we were the only ones who planned to stay the night. After a while we gave up on getting a glimpse of the mountain and snuck into our sleeping bags with a couple of books. Then, miracle of miracles, just when the sun was setting, the fog lifted.


Sunset behind the Twin Sisters

The lookout & Mount Baker

It was amazing! It went from completely fogged in to one of the clearest nights I have ever experienced.

JK in the doorway It's full of stars! Light pollution

It's warmer inside

The next morning we lingered in the lookout for a while longer before heading out.

This is the life

Park Butte Lookout

Glacier Peak feeling blue

On the way down we found the beautiful tarn we had seen photographed in the guide book – I love the reflection of Mount Baker!

Getting water

The Markiewiczeseszzes

We were supposed to hike up to the climbers’ high camp on Baker before getting back to the car, but due to the whole mouse incident we were both really, really hungry. We ended up just hoofing it back to the trailhead instead. Now we have a good reason to go back.

Mount Baker

Hiking, Southwest, Travel

Road Trip part six: Goldstrike Hot Springs and the ER

Finally, four months after the fact, here is the final installment of the road trip blog…

After making it back up to Hualapai Hilltop and driving back to Las Vegas, we had a quiet night to recover. The next day we woke up unsure of what to do. Our flight wasn’t until the following day, and none of us could stomach the thought of Las Vegas in the daytime (*shudder*). Solution? Why, go hiking again of course!

I had found some info on some hot springs by Hoover Dam on the intertubes, so off we went. I’ll just copy and paste my trip report from NWHikers because I’m too lazy to write something more interesting:

To get to the trailhead from Vegas, we drive towards the Hoover Dam for about an hour. 0.5 miles or so past the Hacienda Casino, turn right onto a road that passes under the new highway they’re building. When you reach a fork in the road, turn left and drive to the end where there is room for parking.

The new highway

The hike is about 4 miles roundtrip. At first you walk through the canyon looking at all the remnants of car crashes from the old highway above.

One of many old car wrecks along the trail

At around 1.5 miles, you start having to scramble over and around some huge boulders – it’s all good fun though, no really scary parts…even for a wuss like me. I did, however, fall flat on my face and had the pleasure of my bum being photographed with a wide-angle lens.

Big boulders


Jules manouvering down some steps cut into the rock Shuddup, it's a wide-angle lens! JK avec rope

After getting over all those boulders, you get to relax in the hot springs (heaven for our post-Havasu leg muscles). There are three separate pools, but we stayed in the first two since the third one (where, apparently, there is some sort of tunnel you can swim through to get to a little grotto) was full of them thar young’uns drinking beer.

The two upper pools

Lazing in the middle pool

Definitely a hike I would recommend if, like me, you’re allergic to the sight of Las Vegas in daylight and need something to do! :o)

After soaking in the pools for a while, we drove back to Vegas. Somehow, Julia convinced us to eat at the Hooters Hotel (why? whyyyyyy??). A couple hours later I suddenly started feeling weird, so I went to bed…only to wake up the next morning to an inferno of projectile vomiting and (how do I say this delicately), uhm, other excretions. After a couple of hours of this I was so exhausted and dehydrated that JK and Jules had to take me to the ER.

Two bags of IV fluids and several shots in the bum later, I was feeling better but still couldn’t really walk. Lame (literally). We ended up having to postpone our flight one day until I was able to fly back.

A really really bad ending to a very very good vacation. I would totally recommend our whole route and itinerary – but whatever you do, don’t eat at Hooters.

The Trio at Excalibur

Alpine Lakes Wilderness, Backpacking, Hiking, Top Trips

Jade Lake & Diptop Gap

I know I keep saying this every time we go somewhere and it is probably starting to get old, but this was the most stunningly amazing scenery I have ever seen. I frankly don’t see how anything could top it, given my love of glacial lakes and snowy peaks. Sigh.

Hyas Lake

Anyhoo, on to the trip report. Amy was out of town, so JK, Bobby and I kidnapped Tom and took him into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. We had heard the road to the Deception Pass trailhead was total shite, but we had no problems – one harmless creek ford (someone less fortunate had left their bumper in it though), and we were good to go. The five miles to Deception Pass just flew by, and we dropped down into the beautiful Hozzbizz Basin (flowers galore – but I left my camera at home to save weight and JK always insists on using the wide-angle lens, so no flower photos) before climbing on up to Marmot Lake.

JK in Marmot Lake

At Marmot Lake we ate lunch, cooled off, were swarmed by mosquitoes, and decided to head on. Marmot Lake is a lovely destination in itself, but we had our sights set on higher places. The “trail” keeps going up and down over all sorts of obstacles before climbing up a steep, rocky gully. It’s hard to convey steepness in photos, but here I am going up, and then down again the next day:

A marmot in Marmot Up the gully Down the gully

Once we cleared the boulder field (which was full of pikas and marmots), we found a trail again – and man alive, was getting up that gully worth it:

Back on trail

We quickly passed by No Name Lake (yes, that’s its name) with the intention of exploring it the next day (this was not to happen), and made our way to Jade Lake – I had seen photos of it before, but I was still completely amazed by its color:

Jade Lake

We set up our tents as quickly as possible since the mosquitoes were really getting annoying. Poor Bobby had swollen bites all over his face, so we wondered if maybe we should drop the rest of the hike and just stay in our tent with him…but the tent was so warm would all have been miserable. Solution? Stuff Bobs in a backpack, put DEET on the parts of his head he can’t lick, then keep moving.

Poor Scabnose

We walked up and over the knob by the side of the lake and started traversing a steep scree slope to get to the Jade Glacier. Every other step seemed to relase a nasty slide, so naturally I started freaking out and angled down to the snowfield as soon as possible. Ugh. I have never been happier to walk on snow. Tom, however, skipped along the scree without a care in a world, seemingly unaware that death was imminent. Men!

Scree hell

As we made our way up the snowfield, the views really started opening up:

Looking back

By the time we got to the top of the pass, I was a wee bit proud of myself – I have never gained that much elevation (over relatively challenging terrain) with an overnight pack on before. It seemed fitting to belt out the Rocky theme song as I walked the last steps to the top, so I did. :)

Singing the Rocky theme at Diptop Gap

Diptop Gap is officially my new happy place. The view of Pea Soup Lake in front of Mount Daniel (the highest mountain in our county at 7,959 feet) and the Lynch Glacier is just amazing. I had no idea Mount Daniel was so beautiful. I think we need to climb it next summer.

Christmas card '08?

Since the sun was setting, we reluctantly left Diptop Gap and glissaded down the snowfield. By now I had a really intense headache accompanied by a lovely bit of nausea (I get exertion headaches, so it was no surprise that I got one that day), so I only ate a couple bites for dinner and then tried to sleep. In vain. All in all I got around three hours of sleep, and woke up feeling like crap the next day.


Between my nausea and the mosquito situation, we decided to head out as soon as possible. I hiked the entire way out feeling like I was seconds away from vomiting (from now on I’m bringing anti-nausea pills in my first-aid kit!), while Bobby did his best to scratch his mosquito bites:

Takin' care of skeeter business

When we got to Hyas Lake, a couple of miles from the car, the boys went for a well-deserved swim (I stayed put on land, trying not to vomit).

A manly dip

Since Tom had spent the entire hike out talking about pizza and beer (this didn’t help my stomach by the way), we stopped in Roslyn on the way out. Fellow Northern Exposure geeks will recognize this:

*Northern Exposure theme song*

There you have it, an absolutely fabulous first day and a less than stellar second day – but the views made up for the sickness. :) Lots of miles. So much elevation gain. Mosquito bites in the hundreds. Would I do it again? Oh yes. In a heartbeat.